Results tagged ‘ Chase Utley ’
Could Ryan Howard be back shortly after the All-Star break?
It looks like it. The Phillies announced today that Howard will return to Philadelphia tomorrow for “functional testing on his left Achilles.” If Howard passes those tests he will begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Class A Lakewood. Once a position player begins a rehab assignment he has 20 days before he must be activated, unless there is a setback. That means if Howard took the full 20 days he could be back no later than July 18, or six games following the All-Star break.
Howard has been on the disabled list since the season started because of left Achilles surgery. He suffered a setback because of an infection in the heel in February. Charlie Manuel spoke to Howard on the telephone Monday.
“More than likely, the way things look, it’ll be after the All-Star break,” Manuel said. “He feels real good. He still says that when he runs he’s got a little limp. He says, ‘I want to play and I feel like I can play.’ He says, ‘I don’t know if I’ll be where you want me to be or not,’ but at the same time he’s got to be able to go play and be able to do some things. He feels like he’s getting there. He’s very positive about where he’s at when I talked with him.”
Is it too late for the Phillies?
“There’s no doubt in my mind there’s plenty of time,” Utley said before Monday’s game against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. “I know there are some people that have given up on me. And there are some people that have given up on this team. But I’ll be the first one to tell you that I definitely haven’t given up on myself, and I know our guys have not given up on this year. We have strong-willed guys on this team.”
Those were uncharacteristically strong comments from Utley, who has been on the disabled list since the season started because of chondromalacia in his left knee. He worked out with the team Monday and will play a rehab game Tuesday with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Assuming he feels OK, expect Utley to be activated and hitting third in the Phillies lineup Wednesday.
The Phillies certainly could use him in the lineup, in the field and in the clubhouse, which has been noticeably more blasé than past seasons.
Charlie Manuel is looking forward to Wednesday.
“Utley is our three-hole hitter,” he said. “I think he is the guy that works the count. I think he is the guy that when he’s right he’ll hit 25-30 homers. I think he is the guy that’ll hit .300. I think he is the guy that can knock in 100 runs and score 100. That’s what I picture Utley to be. I think until we find somebody I think can do better more than likely he’s going to land in that three-hole.”
And Manuel still believes Utley can be a productive three-hole hitter?
“I think he’s earned a chance to see if he’s that guy,” Manuel said.
“I do believe that,” said Utley, asked if he can be the hitter he was a few years ago. “There’s no doubt that (his legs) are stronger than they were last year. Having my legs under me is an important part of that. But time will tell.”
Utley would not say he is completely pain-free in his knees, but “I’m in a much better place than I was a month ago and I’m encouraged by that. I wouldn’t be out there if I felt uncomfortable.”
Utley hit .156 (5-for-32) in nine rehab games with Class A Clearwater, but it is difficult to read much into that. For example, he went 1-for-10 in a rehab assignment in Clearwater in 2007. He hit .332 that season for the Phillies.
“Every day, it seemed to get a little bit better,” Utley said. “I had some good swings and some bad swings, which was anticipated. But I’m optimistic of how things went.”
Manuel indicated Utley will be worked in slowly before they turn him loose, but Utley believes he should be eventually playing five, six or seven games a week.
No pressure, Chase.
“Anytime you add pressure to this game it will just make it more difficult. I understand,” he said. “I’ve been around here for a long time. We’ve had successful years here. I’m just as excited as the fans are to get back on the field.”
The Phillies announced tonight that Utley, who has been on the disabled list since the beginning of the season with a chronic condition in his left knee, will begin a rehab assignment tomorrow with Class A Clearwater. Utley will be Clearwater’s designated hitter, but is expected to begin playing second base relatively shortly.
Position players can be on a rehab assignment for 20 days. If they are healthy, they are expected to rejoin the big-league club at that point.
That means if Utley’s rehab assignments goes well he should be back with the Phillies no later than July 2.
Utley played in only nine rehab games last season before rejoining the Phillies. Ruben Amaro Jr. said Utley would need more time this year, although Utley wouldn’t say how much time he might need.
“We’ll have to see,” Utley told reporters June 3, the day he left for Clearwater after spending more than a month rehabbing with the team. “I didn’t swing the bat that great initially last year. My whole goal is to feel comfortable not only in the batter’s box but on the field as well.”
By all accounts, Utley has looked good swinging the bat. He has worked hard to keep his legs strong during rehab. A lack of lower body strength likely sapped him of his power last season, when he had the worst year of his career offensively since becoming an everyday player.
The Phillies had no update on Ryan Howard, who is rehabbing from left Achilles surgery. But it is not a stretch to think both players could be back before the All-Star break.
Placido Polanco visited hand specialist Randall Culp today in Philadelphia. Polanco (left wrist) has improved and could be available in tomorrow’s series opener against the Twins.
That’s nine, folks.
Here we go:
Chase Utley (chondromalacia left knee). He did not play in an extended Spring Training game Tuesday in Clearwater, Fla., but he will play Wednesday as a designated hitter. There are no extended Spring Training games again until June 12, so in the meantime Utley will participate in simulated games and continue his regular workouts. Amaro said it is unlikely Utley begins an official rehab assignment until he plays in that second round of extended Spring Training games June 12-14. “Generally, Chase, when he’s ready to go he’ll let us know,” Amaro said. “Just like he did on Sunday.” Amaro would not say if Utley could be back before the All-Star break, but if Utley begins a rehab assignment June 15 he would have 20 days to get himself ready to rejoin the team. That would put him at July 5.
Ryan Howard (left Achilles surgery). He will hit in Wednesday’s extended Spring Training game, but he will not run or play in the field. Amaro said Howard has been jogging and doing some light sprinting, but said, “His calf just isn’t strong enough to really do full-out sprint work. I don’t know what the percentage is, 50 percent, 40 percent 60 percent, I really don’t know.”
Roy Halladay (strained right latissimus dorsi). Everybody has been awaiting the second opinion from Mets physician David Altchek, but Amaro said, “There’s not going to really be much difference in the prognosis.” The Phillies sent Altcheck results from previous MRIs on Friday and they just arrived in New York on Tuesday morning. Amaro said Halladay has started some shoulder exercises and other upper body work. “He’s doing pretty well,” Amaro said. “This morning’s report was he was symptom free and doing some of the exercises, so that’s a good sign.” Halladay could begin throwing again at the three week mark.
Jim Thome (lower back strain). He could rejoin the team in time for this weekend’s interleague series in Baltimore. It sounds like Thome will only DH and pinch-hit upon his return to the big leagues, which could be an issue. But playing in the field certainly seems out of the question. Can Thome be effective as a full-time pinch-hitter after these nine interleague road games? “I don’t know,” Amaro said. “That’s a good question. We’ll find out.”
Laynce Nix (strained left calf). He will head to Clearwater following Thursday’s game to pick up his rehab. “He’s been progressing pretty good, too,” Amaro said.
Mike Stutes (right shoulder inflammation) and David Herndon (right elbow inflammation). Amaro said they are progressing slowly.
Justin De Fratus (strained right elbow). He is throwing from 75 feet. “Hopefully we can get him going in the next couple weeks,” Amaro said.
Jose Contreras (strained right elbow). No surgery has been scheduled yet.
He is headed to Clearwater, Fla., where he could play an extended Spring Training game as early as Monday. He hopes to rejoin the Phillies sooner rather than later, but only he knows for sure and Sunday he offered no timetable for his return from a chronically injured left knee that has kept him sidelined since he flied out to deep center field in the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series.
“I don’t have a time frame,” he said during an unexpected announcement in front of his locker following a 5-1 loss to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. “My whole goal is to feel comfortable and feel like I can contribute on a daily basis. I’m excited. I’m not happy I’m in this position, but I’m excited that I’m feeling better and I have an opportunity to go down and keep working and kind of advance how things are going here.”
Utley’s health has been a mystery since Spring Training. The Phillies said he would be ready to start the season on time, but he stopped participating in fielding practice the second week of camp and instead spent the first month of the season working with a physical therapist in Phoenix. He rejoined the team May 5 with the expectation he would take ground balls for a week or two before heading to Clearwater.
It took longer than expected.
Here is what he said:
Q: How did you feel taking grounders?
A: Ground balls went pretty well yesterday. I plan on doing some more today. I ran a little bit earlier today, which was nice. It was good to wake up feeling pretty good. That’s a good sign.
Q: You said in Washington you’d start taking ground balls, but it didn’t happen for a couple weeks. Why?
A: I was doing some things inside. I’m trying to get to a point where when we start going for it, I feel pretty comfortable. I’ve realized over the course of this time that the more I push it and feel uncomfortable, the worse it can get. We try to make small progressions. Taking ground balls yesterday was a good sign. I felt pretty good today.
He physically rejoined them today at Nationals Park, although he remains at least a few weeks away from rejoining the Phillies lineup. Utley, who is on the disabled list with chondromalacia in his left knee, will rehab with the team until he feels ready to begin playing rehab games in Clearwater, Fla.
He spent about two weeks playing in rehab games last season before he rejoined the team.
Could he need just another two weeks this time?
Freddy Galvis has no reason to hang his head. He has played brilliant defense, and is hitting .214 with four doubles, one home run and five RBIs through 17 games. Those five extra-base hits are tied with Carlos Ruiz for the team lead. Not bad for a guy that had just 121 at-bats above Double-A Reading before this season.
It’s the rest of the offense that has played terribly.
That is why the Phillies clung to the five runs they scored in the ninth inning in last night’s 9-5 loss to the Diamondbacks.
Charlie Manuel called it a morale booster.
Chase Utley would not offer a timetable for his return, but I would not be surprised if he is back before June 1. He returned to action on May 23 last season, and Utley sure seemed pleased with his progress when we talked to him yesterday. We asked Charlie Manuel if Utley could play some first base upon his return, especially if Ryan Howard is still on the DL. Manuel would not rule out the possibility, but he did not say it was something he was considering, either.
He took BP today, and said he felt great. No pain there. He took grounders for the first time. He said he felt some pain in his left knee, but he seemed pretty upbeat.
A few highlights from the interview:
A: Yeah, last two weeks or so I’ve been swinging the bat. No pain whatsoever, which in my opinion, is a positive sign.
A: Still getting used to it in the field. Overall, it’s much improved since the end of spring training.
A few thoughts/facts on one of baseball’s worst offenses through 16 games:
- The Phillies have a .283 on-base percentage, .317 slugging percentage and 2.69 runs per game average. No team (in either league) has finished a season with a lower OBP since the 1968 Mets (.281), a lower SLG since the 1972 Rangers (.290) or a lower runs per game average since the 1942 Phillies (2.61). So unless you think the 2012 Phillies are one of the worst offenses in baseball history, they will improve. But how much? And will it happen in enough time to make a difference?
- The Phillies have scored two or fewer runs in 10 games, and in 5 of their last 6.
- We could see Chase Utley at the ballpark today, while Ryan Howard is scheduled to see a wound specialist in Philadelphia. Is there any shot the Phillies get good news from both?
- I’m an Utley skeptic at this point because he proved to be no better than an average big-league hitter last season. It’s just difficult to believe he will return to All-Star form when he is still battling the same knee problems. (His .769 OPS last year would have ranked 77th out of 146 hitters had he qualified for the statistic.) But here’s something interesting: From April 1 through May 22 last season without Utley in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 3.83 runs per game with a .312 OBP and .364 SLG. From May 23 through July 29 with Utley in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 4.71 runs per game with a .329 OBP and .407 SLG. And from July 30 through the end of the regular season with Utley and Hunter Pence in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 4.54 runs per game with a .324 OBP and a .406 SLG. It is possible even an average Utley can make that much of a difference in the lineup’s performance? It’s something worth thinking about.
- Jim Thome has 2 hits and 9 strikeouts in 16 at-bats. I’ve had fans ask me if they think he is finished. But I’ve got a crazy idea: Play Thome more. If Charlie Manuel believes Thome needs more at-bats, which he said yesterday, then give them to him. What does Manuel have to lose? There had been talk in spring training that Thome might be able to play as many as two games in the field every week. Maybe even three. What happened to that? Thome has started just three times this season. If Thome plays more and his back flares up, it’s not like his absence is going to kill the offense, as little as he has played and as little as he has contributed as a pinch-hitter. (He’s 0-for-7 with 5 strikeouts as a pinch-hitter.) And as much as Thome has struck out, he also has given the Phillies some of their most “professional” at-bats. He is averaging 4.50 pitches per plate appearance. The next closest Phillies players with 16 or more at-bats are Juan Pierre (4.02) and Placido Polanco (3.94). So turn Thome loose. Let’s see how much he has left in the tank. If he produces, great. If he can’t handle the job physically or he continues to struggle, well, then you know.
- Oh, and when Thome starts hit him fourth and Pence third. Maybe Pence would be more comfortable hitting somewhere other than cleanup. He has never hit more than 25 homers or had more than 97 RBIs in a season. Cleanup isn’t his spot, at least when Thome is playing.
- I’ve gotten lots of e-mails and tweets about Domonic Brown, but he is hitting just .263 (15-for-57) with four doubles, one triple and eight RBIs in 15 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has a .311 on-base percentage and a .368 slugging percentage. As much as John Mayberry Jr. has struggled, I can’t see the Phillies considering Brown as the solution in left field with a .680 OPS in Triple-A.
Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:
- April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.
- April 29: Citizens Bank Park, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
- May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
- June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.